My name is Raquel Astacio and I run Doggy’s Digest along with my boyfriend, Alexis. We are a site dedicated to thoroughly covering the topic of probiotics for dogs. I originally reached out to Dog Food Advisor to see if we could contribute a post; unfortunately they do not accept any but did say we can post in the forums.
Many dog owners are not aware about canine probiotics and our mission at Doggy’s Digest is to help increase awareness. I am posting the original article that I was going to contribute to Dog Food Advisor. If this is an inconvenience or violates guidelines, please do let me know. If you find the content informative and have questions, please let me know and I will be more than happy to answer! Thank you.
The Benefits of Canine Probiotics
For years now, we as humans have been learning the many health benefits of probiotics. Just like humans, dogs need healthy food, plenty of exercise, vitamins, and probiotics in order to be in optimum health. Probiotics are bacteria and live yeasts that improve overall health, especially in regards to our digestive systems. We usually think of all bacteria as being harmful and causing diseases. When we hear the word “bacteria” we think of antibacterial products and antibiotics that we use to destroy unhealthy bacteria.
So why would we want to willingly ingest or feed something to our dogs that has live bacteria in it? The answer is that digestive systems naturally consist of a correct balance of both “good” and “bad” bacteria. Illnesses, diet, medications, and our environment can upset this balance that is needed to stay healthy. The bacteria from probiotics is healthy bacteria. The microorganisms in probiotics are actually alive. They produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which inhibit the growth and activity of harmful bacteria. They can greatly improve a host’s gut and overall health when ingested in the proper amounts.
Probiotics are a relatively new, healthy trend in the dog and pet industry. People are realizing how essential it is to provide their pets with healthy supplements to their diet. Probiotics promote a healthy gastrointestinal system and intestinal balance in your dog. The healthy bacteria can also build up the immune system.
Veterinarians prescribe probiotics for many different conditions. They are recommended for dogs who suffer from SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), chronic diarrhea, auto-immune disorders, skin problems, irritable bowel, and intestinal infections like Giardia and Clostridia. They may even reduce allergic reactions and prevent urinary tract infections.
Once you have decided to provide your dog with probiotics, how do you choose which kind to use? It is first important to make sure that you are getting a quality product. New canine probiotics are being advertised all the time and dog food brands are adding probiotics to their foods. The challenge is that dog probiotics, like all probiotics, are live cultures that are unstable in their active states (yogurts or liquid-containing products). When exposed to extreme conditions, much of the bacteria can die off and lose their beneficial properties before reaching the intestine. This is the case for a lot of canine probiotics. This means that you need to choose a quality brand that has taken these things into account and are not just cheap probiotics added to a brand for marketing purposes.
It is first important to check the kinds and amounts of probiotic strains and amount of CFU in the probiotic. Look for 2-4 billion CFU and 8 or less strains of bacteria. Significantly less CFU may not provide any added benefits to your dog’s diet, and much higher CFU and a high number of strains may be indicators of possible harmful combinations.
Probiotics come in various forms: maintenance, intermediate, and concentrated. Maintenance probiotics are usually in powder or granule form and are used to combat everyday stress such as changes in environment or being left alone. Intermediate probiotics are usually powders and fed to your dog daily to deal with chronic stress and digestive issues. Finally, concentrated probiotics come in pastes or liquids and are temporarily used for the duration of a pet’s illness.
For everyday uses, probiotics in dry form are good options to consider. These provide a healthy and convenient option for dog owners. They contain stabilized strains of bacteria that will come back to life once they have reached the dog’s stomach. They then move to the intestines and multiply hundreds of times. Since they are not in an unstable, liquid form, they do not require refrigeration. It is simple to sprinkle these probiotics on your dog’s food.
Freeze-dried probiotics are another viable option. These probiotic microorganisms do not lose any of their potency or viability until they are mixed with water. This will happen naturally during digestion.
Whichever probiotic product you choose, you must be sure to store and use them properly. If you are using powder or granules, keep them closed and dry until feeding time. You may freeze dried forms once, but they may not be repeatedly frozen and thawed. If you choose a paste or liquid form, it must be refrigerated but cannot be frozen. Lastly, follow label instructions for proper dosage. Canine probiotics can be a wonderfully healthy addition to your dog’s diet and improve their vitality for years to come.
Please let me know if you have any questions. I hope you enjoyed the post!
Our dog suffered from severe skin issues, primarily rashes under our boxer’s armpits and his belly. I was so fed up with stuff that did not work both from the web and our vets I read extensively on the benefits of SCFA’s and probiotics for helping dog’s allergies. A research journal lead me to a particular flax seed developed by a farming co-op that grows a specific flax seed for dogs. There website included canine products with their flax. I used the VitaHound product that includes enzymes and probiotics with the flax, and it worked, no more rash and no more itching. So great to see someone advocating for this type of approach, keep posting on the benefits of SFCA’s and probiotics, the vet profession needs to help their patience use these compounds to help their suffering dogs and not have to figure it out on their own. I look forward to visiting your site keep up spreading the word.
Thanks for you post, Rachel, and blessings on you and Alexis; keep up the good work. I am so grateful you were allowed to post. I will consider probiotics now.One of my dogs had surgery for crystals in his urinary tract, afterwords the Vet thought he should be on a U/D dog food. The clinic carries Science Diet and I am reading much negative talk about that dog food. Have you any suggestions that will help prevent these crystals? Regards.
I’m so sorry, RAQUEL:}
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